AI robots will ‘terminate’ potholes for a fraction of the cost of human workers

The answer to the UK's long-running pothole problem might just be a bit more hi-tech than any of us expected.

Everyone from Stephen Hawking to Elon Musk has warned about the dangers of artificial intelligence wiping out mankind. But that doesn’t mean AI is all bad.

A scheme to deploy artificially intelligent road mending robots to end the menace of potholes once and for all has been proposed by an organisation funded by the University of Liverpool.

Robotiz3d Ltd has designed a new breed of autonomous robots which can apparently detect potholes and other road surface problems, then fix them within minutes.

Pothole repair is a serious business – it’s cost over £1billion in the past decade, and Robotiz3d promise their pothole terminators can do the job much more cheaply than any human.

"The proposed system will be able to autonomously detect and characterise road defects such as cracks and potholes, assess and predict the severity of such defects and fix cracks so that they do not evolve into potholes," Dr Paolo Paoletti, the firm's chief technology officer, said today.

The technology has been developed and trialled over the past four years. It is believed the new approach will be a more cost-effective and faster way to finally tackle potholes.

Dr Sebastiano Fichera, technical director of Robotiz3d, said: "Current methods to detect and repair of potholes are labour intensive and as such are slow, unsafe, and costly to the economy and environment."

He added: "The new technology we are developing will make road maintenance tasks faster, cheaper, and cleaner and ultimately make roads safer and more accessible."

The University of Liverpool's Faculty of Science & Engineering has supported the trial.

Professor Anthony Hollander, pro-vice-chancellor for Research & Impact at the institution, said: "The University …is committed to working with industry to put high-quality research results on a commercialisation path.

"By partnering with a2e, and putting solid investment behind Robotiz3d, we are aiming to make a real difference to the economy, society, and the environment.”

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